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Program Bank: Environment Texts & Scripture

Then the Lord, God formed the human of the dust of the ground, and breathed into the nostrils the breath of life; and the human became a living soul. (Genesis 11:7)

When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap all the way to the edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest. You shall not pick your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger: I, Adonai, am your God. (Leviticus 19:9-10)

For the Lord your God shall lead you into the good land, a land of streams and springs and fountains issuing from plain and hill; a land of wheat and barley, of vines, figs and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey; a land where you may eat food without stint, where you will lack nothing. (Deuteronomy 8:7-9)

When in your war against a city you have to besiege it a long time in order to capture it, you must not destroy its trees, wielding the ax against them. You may eat of them, but you must not cut them down. Are trees of the field human to withdraw before you into the besieged city? (Deuteronomy 20:19)

Consider the work of God: for who can make straight that which has been made crooked? (Ecclesiastes 7:13)

Let the heavens rejoice and the earth exult; let the sea and all within it thunder, the fields and everything in them exult; then shall all the trees of the forest shout for joy at the presence of Adonai, who is coming to rule the earth; God will rule justly and its people with faithfulness. (Psalms 96:11-13)

But ask the beasts, and they will teach you; the birds of the sky, they will teach you, or speak to the earth, it will teach you; the fish of the sea, they will inform you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of Adonai has done this? (Job 12:7-9)

Rav Judah said, “He who goes out during the days of Nisan and sees the trees budding, should say, ‘Blessed be He who has caused nothing to be lacking in His universe, and created therein beautiful creations and beautiful trees from which people can derive pleasure.’ (Babylonian Talmud, B’rachot 43b)

If a man sees beautiful persons and beautiful trees, he should say, “Blessed be He who created beautiful creatures in His world.” (Babylonian Talmud, B’rachot 7:7)

R. Elazar said, “With what may the righteous in this world be compared? To a tree whose trunk stands entirely in a pure place, but its branches extend over to an unclean place. If those branches are cut off, then all the tree is in a pure place.” So God imposes sufferings on the righteous in this world so that they may inherit the world to come. (Babylonian Talmud, Kiddushin 40b)

Rabbi Eleazar, son of Rabbi Simeon observed, ‘Why does Scripture at times put the earth before heaven and at other times heaven before earth? To teach that the two are of equal value.” (Genesis Rabbah 1:15)

When God created the first human beings, God led them around the Garden of Eden and said: “Look at my works! See how beautiful they are, how excellent! Take care not to spoil or destroy My world, for if you do, there will be no one to repair it after you.” (Midrash Rabbah, Commentary on Ecclesiastes 7:13)

It should not be believed that all the beings exist for the sake of the existence of humanity. On the contrary, all the other beings too have been intended for their own sakes, and not for the sake of something else. (Maimonides, Guide of the Perplexed)

Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, Rabbi Eliezer, Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Yose were sitting one day beneath some trees on the plain by the Sea of Ginnosar. Rabbi Shimon said: “The shade spread over us by these trees is so pleasant! We must crown this place with words of Torah!” (Zohar 2:127a)

Said Dov Baer, the Maggid of Mezhirech [in the Ukraine]: Your kind deeds are used by God as seed for the planting of trees in the Garden of Eden; thus, each of you creates your own Paradise. (Esser Orot (Ten Lights))

All that [we] see—the heaven, the earth, and all these things are the external garments of God. (Rabbi Schneur Zalman, the Alter Rebbe)

Just to be is a blessing. Just to live is holy. (Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel)

He that planteth a tree is a servant of God, he provideth a kindness for many generations, and faces that he haith not seen shall bless him. (Henry Van Dyke)

The olive tree is a sign of hope that, despite the enormity of destruction, life can be restored. When the great flood began to subside, Noah sent out a dove. The dove came back to him toward evening, and there in its bill was a plucked-off olive leaf! So then Noah knew that the waters had subsided from upon the earth. (Genesis 8:11)